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Profile: Gariyasi Garg

Gariyasi smiling wearing black tie outfit

Gariyasi Garg (2020, PPE)

Gariyasi is in her second year of studying PPE at Univ and was Treasurer for the recent Univ ball as well as Academic Affairs Officer for the JCR. In this profile, she discusses being an international student, building diverse skill sets and the myth of “the Oxford type”.

Why did you choose to study PPE at Univ?
In high school, I knew I was inclined to study economics and the social sciences but I also thought of myself as a generalist and wanted to carry out my studies inter-disciplinarily. PPE allowed me to do just that and more: it gave me a more rounded understanding of the world, with all three subjects filling the gaps in each other. PPE, I thought, would also build a diverse skill set in me, and push me to think in different ways. For someone like me who could never fit into one of the “problem set” vs “essay” type binary, this was great!

Funny story about why I chose Univ: I was completely unacquainted with the college system because I never visited Oxford before applying. So, I thought by ticking the box next to “University” in the list of colleges on UCAS, I was making an open application because I was applying to Oxford University. Turns out, I was applying to Univ. In hindsight though, I could not have made a better choice; I have found Univ’s teaching and social community to be excellent. Univ is my favourite college now.

Gariyasi smiling wearing a yellow dress and blue jacket with Univ blue and yellow bunting in gardenHow do you think you have changed since walking through Univ’s doors for the first time?
Since stumbling into the University Church with four bags of luggage when I arrived in Oxford for the first time, I have become much better at directions! Jokes aside, (everyone says this because it’s true) I have become a lot more confident.

After living and interacting with people from different walks of life (from different countries, different cultures, different lifestyles, different religious affinities, different personality types etc.) at Univ, I have become more open-minded: cognisant of diverse world views, and more reflective of my own. My study of politics and economics has complimented my experience of being in a global and intercultural space like Oxford; I have become more observant of the intercutting power dynamics and the varied set of human behaviours that surround me. Being at Univ, I have become more ambitious and risk-taking in my intellectual pursuits, challenging myself to take topics and use methods that I know will be difficult, but rewarding.

Why did you get involved in the ball committee? Any challenges/favourite moments?
Growing up on a university campus in India, I always aspired to be like the college students who were at the helm of organising socio-cultural events. After having limited social interaction in my first year due to the pandemic, I thought that being a part of the ball committee could be the perfect way of getting involved in, and giving back to, the college community. It would also be a great challenge/learning opportunity for all things event management related, which has long been a hobby of mine. My favourite moment definitely has to be the day of the ball; seeing everything your team has planned come together is always a sweetly fulfilling moment.

Do you have any advice for current or prospective students?
As an international student, I can empathise with the difficulty of settling into college and dealing with all sorts of cultural shocks. In my experience, help is always available and things become so much better when you seek help. This also applies to academics; tutors are usually understanding if you be honest with them and identify where you need assistance.

My other advice would be to try to not feel pressurised to fit in and do things you don’t like or are uncomfortable with. This is not to say that you should not put yourself out there and try new things, but that at the same time you should not feel obliged to fit into a certain university student stereotype. I have found that you can almost always find like-minded people at university if you dig hard enough, even if it feels in the beginning like they don’t exist at all.

For prospective students, I would encourage you to not compare yourself to other candidates too much during the application process. The portfolio of students who have had more opportunities growing up can seem glittering and can be discouraging. Instead, I believe that focusing on doing your best and believing in yourself can help showcase your potential to the admissions officers in the most effective way.

Gariyasi smiling while sitting on a puntHas anything surprised you about Univ/Oxford/your course?
I’ve been surprised by the ridiculously simple and unsurprising fact that everyone at Oxford is so human. Before coming here, I epitomised “the Oxford type” – the prodigal, mysterious and diligent. But when I spot world-renowned professors in the same grocery store as me, or when I see students struggling with their work like me, I realise that most people at Oxford are relatable.

About my course, I was surprised at how the three parts of PPE are taught by separate departments, but also at how collaboratively most students tend to study here. Time spent with my friends in one of Univ’s many group study spaces is among the highlights of my time at Univ.

Describe Univ in three words.
Friendly, Supportive, and Absolutely Gorgeous.

Published: 11 July 2022

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